Category Archives: Beauty and God

Cranky, Crabby Me, and Yet He Loves Me.

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I’m feeling just generally out of sorts. It’s the beginning of Advent, and I keep thinking I should be feeling joyful, because Advent is the season that celebrates the coming of Jesus from Heaven into the world as a peeing, pooping baby. I mean, how amazing is that!? Jesus Christ stepped down from His Majesty on High to assume human form so He could save humanity from our sins.

It’s just so incredible and amazing that God Himself would do that, and that He would do so to save me, even when I’m cranky and crabby like I am right now. I should be grateful, not cranky, but I wish I could just go Home and be with Him instead of having to occupy here, where people, including me, are so mean and awful and evil.

But then, if I think about it, I used to be a whole lot meaner, and more awful and evil than I am now, when I’m just cranky and crabby. I needed Jesus back then, just like all the other mean, awful, and evil people do now. I’m so glad I got my act together and opened the door and let Jesus into my heart!

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” ~ Revelation 3:20, NKJV.

Jesus said that as He was rebuking the Church at Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22. I’m grateful that I could open the door to my heart so that He could come in. That He would be willing to come in and take up residence in me is a marvel to me even to this day, especially when I’m in a bad mood. Jesus’ kindness and love for me is something that never ceases to amaze me! I know I don’t deserve it, and yet He continues to demonstrate such love that I can’t fathom it!

And He does it in so many different and innumerable ways! His creation is so beautiful that it takes my breath away, no matter where I look!

I don’t know how well you can see the photo of the Peacock spider. If you click on it, you might be able to get it to enlarge. If that doesn’t work (and it may not; it didn’t for me), then here’s the link to a whole website about Peacock spiders, and specifically this species of Peacock spider: https://www.peacockspider.org/#/maratus-caeruleus/, plus you can see pictures of a whole lot of other equally beautiful Peacock spiders.

Part of the reason I’m feeling so cranky has to do with Charlotte. You know, the kitten I got last July?

After six months, she still hasn’t adapted to being with me, and I am very discouraged. She still runs away when I come into the room, and just about the only interaction she’s willing to have with me is to attack my ankles and feet when I’m sitting on the couch watching TV. And it HURTS when she does that!!

I’m so upset about the whole situation that I don’t know what to do, and I’m about to throw in the towel on the whole project. As a consequence I feel like an absolute, complete, and abject failure.

Throughout my life I’ve always been able to make friends with a cat. There’s never, ever been a cat that I’ve not been able to turn into a friend. So in my mind, there must be something wrong with me if I can’t get Charlotte to like, much less love me. So it feels like it’s every man, or rather cat, for herself in my house. And Charlotte’s winning!

So needless to say, I AM DISCOURAGED!! In the last couple of days I’ve asked, begged even, God to let me die and come Home to Heaven because I just can’t handle my life anymore. I hate myself, and I hate my life ~ so much so that I just don’t want to live it. I’m done.

I’M DONE!!!

Unfortunately, I don’t think God will answer that prayer in the affirmative. And at least part of the reason I know that is because I’M STILL HERE!! Darnit!!

I want to end this with some measure of hope, like a Scripture verse or something, but I can’t think of one to use.

Well, maybe…

1 O LORD, You have searched me and known me. 2 You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. 3 You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it altogether… 7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. ~ Psalm 139:1-4 and 7-8, NKJV.

And then there’s this…

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?… 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:35, 37-39, NLT.

I guess that’s the hopeful ending for my train-of-thought, disorganized, cranky, crabby post. Scripture says that God and His love are with me, regardless of how badly my life is going, or how terrible I’m feeling. No matter what’s going on in my life, God’s love is with me, and for me.

I can accept that. I can live with it, and I will always be grateful for it.

Thank you, Jesus!!

Pursuing Holiness While I’m Cursing God and Man

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If the above title sounds like an oxymoron, that’s because it is, but it’s also what my weekend was like. Yesterday was one of those days where I spent the entire day beating myself up over and over and over again. I felt so bad about myself that I ended up wishing I could just stop taking up space and air that other people need and deserve much more than I do.

There are times when I’m writing these posts where I think I make myself sound like my life is all sweetness and light, and God has wonderfully healed me, and I had a terrible childhood, but I’m all better now, and I no longer have any problems. Well, some of that is true, but a lot of it is not.

I did have a terrible childhood, and God did protect me from the worst of it (the worst being that my mother wasn’t able to kill me even though she tried, and my father wasn’t able to get me into the cult even though he tried, and neither was he able to do away with me). And God has healed me from a lot of what happened to me, a fact for which I am incredibly grateful, but there’s still a whole lot that needs to be done.

But when you come from the kind of background I came from, life isn’t going to be all sweetness and light. God has made it so I’m able to find the good in my everyday life. I find great joy in the beauty of His creation, and in listening to beautiful music, as well as Scripture, and in looking at beautiful art. But much of the time I struggle just to make it through a single minute, much less an hour, and even more through a whole day.

Sometimes I wonder how God puts up with me! When I’m having a bad day, I spend the vast majority of it swearing and pulling my hair and yelling at myself (or at God), and then repenting and asking Him to forgive me for the multitudinous millions of mess-ups I made in the last five minutes.

And then I repeat the whole process again and again and again. It feels like I’m drowning in confusion, like there are a bunch of demons swirling around my head ~ even though I know that the Bible says that God is not the author of confusion. All of which means I’m sinning in that TOO!! Yet more condemnation!! Just what I needed.

I once heard a preacher say that if you curse you can’t be saved. Anyone who curses can’t be a Christian. He said it was impossible for anyone who curses to be a Christian. Such a person can’t be saved. That made a big impression on me, because I curse all the time. I’m embarrassed to say it, but I do. I hate that about myself, and I’ve tried time and time again to stop, but I just haven’t been able to conquer it, no matter how much I pray, no matter how much I beg God. I would say that’s my one besetting sin.

Throughout my childhood I heard cursing and swearing from both parents all the time. They fought all the time, and when they did they swore and cursed at each other, calling each other all kinds of terrible names.

I know what the Bible says about the power of the tongue ~ I suppose that’s what got me started down this rabbit trail in the first place. I was reading in James 3 on Friday, and it was like James was reading my mail from two thousand years ago. That’s one of the ways you know that God’s Word is alive ~ when God can use a Scripture passage written two thousand years ago to read your mail today. It’s amazing how He does it, and if I didn’t know He loves me it would make me mad. Fortunately I do know He loves me. I just don’t know how He’s going to get me out of this fix I’m in.

6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. ~ James 3:6-10, NIV.

So based on the premise that I am in fact saved, what that preacher said notwithstanding (one can only hope, right?) I’ll continue blogging and hope that I don’t have many more days like the one yesterday. And I’ll also continue to pray that God helps me to control my tongue, because I HATE it when I swear!! I can’t imagine that it pleases God, and that’s the part that bothers me the most, because I desire above all else to be pleasing to Him.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. ~ Hebrews 11:6, NKJV.

No Average Joes

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God created each one of us in His own image and after His likeness, and I believe He made each person unique and individual, like no other human being ever created before or after. God broke the mold, as the saying goes, after He was finished creating each person. So no one is average, no matter how boring you think you are. If you think you have nothing special to offer, then you need to ask God, and He will show you. EVERYONE has gifts and talents, regardless of how you see yourself.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. ~ 1 Peter 4:10, NLT.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. ~ Ephesians 2:10, NLT.

The word, “masterpiece” in this verse comes from the Greek word, poiēma from which we get the word poem. I understand that to mean that God made me uniquely in His image, a masterpiece of His choosing, unlike any other person that He ever created before or after me, and all the other people who He created are also masterpieces.

Just as an aside, I think that’s why murder is such a terrible crime. When you kill someone, you are murdering a unique person who was created in the image of God, so you’re destroying the very image of God by killing that person, and you’re acting like God when you take that individual’s life. Look what happened to Satan when he tried to act like God. He got tossed out of Heaven, and demoted from Lucifer, one of the archangels, to Satan, lord over Hell. Only God should be able to decide someone’s time of death. God is the author of life, so He should be the author of death.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. 15 You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! 16 You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book! ~ Psalm 139:13-16, TLB, The Living Bible.

When I was little, every time Harry abused me, he told me he had to do it because God hated me. He also told me that I was as ugly as if someone had thrown acid in my face. Those two statements were like a litany repeated over and over into my mind until they became part of the wiring of my nervous system. It took an act of God to break them down so I no longer believed them, terrible lies that they were.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Harry probably felt those things about himself so he projected them onto me. It took many years as an adult for me to be able to believe that God loved me, and many, many more before I could believe that I wasn’t ugly.. What did the trick was changing my name back in 1980.

I decided I wanted to change my name so I could rid myself of the legacy of child abuse. So I went to the Bible to find Bible names with good meanings. I knew I wanted my first name to be Sarah, because it meant Princess. Then I found Abigail, which means “a joy to the Father.”

Then all I was lacking was a last name, so I started flipping through Strong’s Concordance. I happened to open it to a page in the Greek section where the work “kuriakos” appeared at the very bottom of the last column on the left-hand page ~ the very last entry at the bottom of that column. I think God put it there so it would be easy for me to find. And it turned out that “kuriakos” meant “belonging to God”.

How cool is that! I had my whole name! Sarah Abigail Kuriakos. God’s Princess, a Joy to the Father, Belonging to God. I thought I had never heard such a beautiful name in all my life.

Then I decided I wanted to do it legally, because it felt like a legal name change would be the only way for it to feel real to me. So I went to court and changed my name legally from the name I was born with to Sarah Abigail Kuriakos.

Changing my name has made a tremendous difference in my life. Every time I hear the names, I hear their meanings. Hearing the meanings has been like feeding a new litany into my nervous system to break the wiring created by the old one and replacing it with this new, healing one. I could almost feel the healing process as it was happening over the years.

So that’s that! I’m beautiful! I may not look like Raquel Welch or Marilyn Monroe, but I wouldn’t want to. I have a hard enough time being me, much less trying to be someone else. Besides, God didn’t make me to be Marilyn Monroe or Raquel Welch. He made me to be me, and for the first time in my life, I’m fine with that.

I love knowing that because God thinks I’m beautiful, I can accept and believe it about myself, and feel beautiful because God thinks I am. It’s marvelously freeing, though it took me several more years before I could get to that point, even with that wonderful and amazing name.

Finally I realized that God Himself had given me that name. And if He gave me that beautiful name, He must think I’m beautiful. And if God thinks I’m beautiful, then I must be beautiful, because God NEVER makes a mistake.

Think about that. God NEVER makes a mistake, so I must beautiful.

Hallelujah!! Thank you Jesus!!

An Attitude of Gratitude ~ Part II

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Adopting an attitude of gratitude has been more helpful than anything else I’ve tried as I’ve recovered from my childhood. It was easy to focus on how awful I’d had it as a kid, but that didn’t help me to grow and heal. In fact, it only made me feel worse.

I spent years being angry at God for what had happened to me. In fact, that’s all I could see or think about. I devoted a great deal of time to informing Him about how badly He’d messed up my life by allowing Harry and my mother to abuse me as they had, by even placing me in that family in the first place.

What I didn’t understand was that God, because He’s GOD, and therefore Creator and Ruler over everything, including me, had the absolute right to do whatever He wished with my life, just because He’s God. What that means is that He didn’t have to ask my permission before He did something in my life. Specifically, He didn’t have to ask me, or explain to me, why He was placing me in the particular family that He put me in. He’s God and therefore sovereign, and doesn’t owe anyone an explanation about anything.

Woe to the man who fights with his Creator. Does the pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with him who forms it, saying, “Stop, you’re doing it wrong!” or the pot exclaim, “How clumsy can you be!”? ~ Isaiah 45:9, TLB (The Living Bible).

I love the way this translation words it, because that’s exactly what I was trying to do. I was trying to tell God that He had done it wrong by giving me those specific parents. As far as I was concerned, He should have given me much better parents. Parents who were nicer and more loving, as if God, Master of the Universe, Creator of All Things, had made a mistake. And I felt very angry, even enraged, about it too.

Looking back, I can see how incredibly arrogant and presumptuous I was in thinking that. I was displaying the same kind of arrogance Satan did when he decided he would assume God’s throne and overthrow Him, which of course, was impossible. The result of his presumption was that he got tossed out of Heaven forever, and thrown down to Earth.

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ ~ Isaiah 14:12-14, NKJV.

Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. ~ Luke 10:17-18, NKJV.

What I didn’t realize was that if He had given me different parents, then I wouldn’t be me. I’d be someone else with different DNA, a completely different genetic makeup, and completely different reactions to everything. Even more, I would also have a different relationship, or perhaps no relationship at all, with God, and the thought of that horrified and terrified me. I can’t imagine a life where God isn’t a part of it, nor do I want to.

So it seemed I had a decision to make, whether or not I was consciously aware of it. I could hold onto my anger at God, and reject Him and the salvation He offered through Jesus Christ. Or I could be smart and let go of my anger, and accept the grace, and the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

I knew that letting go of my anger meant accepting my past and the terrible suffering that went with it, but there was suffering either way, whether I stayed angry or let go of it. I’d already begun to feel like I was losing my mind because the anger had such a tight grip on me. I was breaking things (the windshield of my car, and one of my tires had fallen victim to my rage), and it felt like there was band around my head that grew tighter every day because I was so angry all the time. In addition, I’d begun to fear that I would lose my salvation if I didn’t let the anger go, because I was yelling and cursing at God almost constantly, and while God is extremely patient and long-suffering, I couldn’t imagine that He’d put up with my childish temper tantrums forever, all the Scriptures to the contrary notwithstanding.

And then I heard James Dobson say something on a Focus On the Family broadcast that brought me up short, and made me think that maybe I was barking up the wrong tree. I don’t remember what the subject of the broadcast was, but what Dr. Dobson said was, “We don’t have the right to hold God accountable.”

What that meant to me was that I didn’t have the right to question God’s sovereignty, which is exactly what I was doing. Human beings don’t have the right to question their Creator’s plan for their lives. God loves us, and because He’s Perfect He really does know what’s best for us. Being Perfect means He doesn’t make mistakes with regard to our lives, and in my case, with regard to my life.

There are times when I have a hard time with that concept. When I consider the absolute Hell I went through as a child, and the love I’ve gone without, because neither parent was willing to meet my emotional needs in any substantive way, which left me feeling like I was starving to death emotionally most of the time.

But I’ve come to realize that God didn’t make a mistake by giving me these parents, as difficult as my life with them was. He had a plan. I think that plan was that I would be able to form a relationship with Him that would be so far above and beyond anything I could ever imagine, one that would never have happened had I been born into any other family.

I’ve come to value my relationship with God far more than any other affiliation in my life, and I wouldn’t be willing to give it up for anything. Thankfully I don’t think He expects me to.

Even though I feel like there’s a gaping hole in me emotionally, I know there’s only One Person who can meet that need, and that Person is Jesus Christ. So I will eagerly await His appearing, and long for the time when I can see His beautiful face, and know Him as He knows me now.

E‘en so, come quickly Lord Jesus!!

Rats. I Just Gotta Let Myself Feel the Pain, ‘Cuz Wherever I Go There I Am.

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The other evening as I was watching the news, they announced that Olivia de Havilland had died, and then later on they announced that Regis Philbin had died as well. While Olivia de Havilland might not be as familiar to many people nowadays as Regis Philbin was, she was very familiar to people my age and older. She played Melanie Hamilton in Gone With the Wind, one of her best known roles, and one for which she received an Oscar nomination. She was 104 when she died.

My point in mentioning these people’s deaths is that when I heard the news of their passing, it hit me rather hard ~ harder than I would have expected ~ and I’ve reached a point with this blog where my first thought when I’m upset about something is to come here and talk about it with you, my followers.

So here I am…

My immediate reaction when I heard the news of de Havilland’s and Philbin’s deaths was to run away. What ran through my mind was that everything was happening way too fast, and I couldn’t control it. And then I reminded myself that I’m not in control anyway, and running away is useless, because regardless of where I go, I’m still with me. Or, wherever I go, there I am, one of my favorite existential statements.

It’s impossible to escape from myself, and it’s also impossible to escape from God,

I can never escape from Your Spirit! I can never get away from Your Presence! If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I go down to the grave, You are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there Your Hand will guide me, and Your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night ~ but even in darkness I cannot hide from You. To You the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to You. ~ Psalm 139:7-12, NLT.

Though, now that I think of it, while I might want to escape from myself, I don’t want to get away from God, because God is the only One who truly understands me and wants the best for me. And once I realized that I couldn’t run away from the pain of losing familiar parts of my life, and that I couldn’t control how quickly everything was happening, I started to cry, because I realized I had to let myself feel the pain.

And who wants to do that? It’s so very painful afterall, and no one likes to experience pain.

But then I remembered that Jesus allowed Himself to feel pain. He wept when He learned that Lazarus had died, the shortest verse in the Bible,

Jesus wept. John 11:35, NKJV.

And the cross was the ultimate expression of Jesus feeling pain, because on the cross He bore the sin, pain, and sickness of all mankind forever. In fact, that was why He came to earth and assumed human flesh in the first place,

For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom He paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose Him as your ransom long before the world began, but He has now revealed Him to you in these last days. ~ 1 Peter 1:18-20, NLT.

I love that. God chose Jesus to be my ransom long before the world began. It just boggles my mind that God would plan that far ahead for my salvation, and I love Him for that. That says to me that He was thinking of me for a very long time before I was ever a thought in my parents’ minds, and not only me, but every single human being who ever existed.

And if Jesus can make that choice, can choose to do the hard stuff, even the hardest stuff of all, and experience the excruciating agony of the cross, and even worse, the abandonment of His Father, so that I ~ we ~ can have relationship with Him, well, then I can make the same choice, and allow myself to feel the comparatively small pains of my life.

I thank You, Jesus, and my Father, and Holy Spirit, for giving me that choice, and for giving me the ability and strength to make it!

WOW!! PRAISE GOD FOREVERMORE!!

The Beauty of the Cross

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This is Passion Week. For Christians it’s possibly the most important week of the whole year, with the possible exception of Christmas.

I am writing about this because, aside from it being vitally important to the church as a whole because of its central place in church doctrine, it’s what gives my life meaning. And it’s that meaning that I want to focus on here.

The Cross. The Cross of Christ. For me there is nothing more beautiful than the cross and the crucifixion. All my hope rests in the cross, because that’s where Jesus took my sins upon Himself. He bore the punishment that I deserved. The innocent Son of God was willing to leave His Majesty and Heavenly Throne, and all that that entails, to come down to earth and assume the body of sinful human flesh. He was willing to come here and be tempted in every way the same as we are, and yet He would do it without giving in to temptation, without sinning. Not even ONE TIME!!

How amazing is that??!!

That gives me hope that there’s someone out there who understands me. Who understands what I’m going through on a day-to-day, minute-to-minute basis, because He’s experienced the same things, yet somehow He managed to get through them victoriously.

Now you might say, “Well, of course He was victorious! He was God!”

But let me remind you, yes, He was God. He was 100% God, but He was also 100% human. So the human part of Him had to endure the temptation, and I’m sure it wasn’t easy. The divine part is what helped Him succeed, but there was always that human part too. We can never forget about that.

So the divine part of Jesus knew what the outcome would be. That He would triumph over death and Hell, over all Satan’s plans. But the human part still felt the need to pray that His Father would take the cup away in the Garden of Gethsemane if it was at all possible, and He sweated drops of blood during His prayers because He was so stressed about it.

Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. There He told them, “Pray that you will not give in to temptation.” He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, “Father, if You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from Me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not Mine.” Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened Him. He prayed more fervently, and He was in such agony of spirit that His sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. ~ Luke 22:39-44, NLT.

Also, the divine part of Christ knew that He would have to be separated from the Father during the time that He would take the sin of the whole world upon His body, because God cannot look on sin, so He couldn’t look at Jesus at that point. But when Jesus was hanging on the cross, the human part of Him was in agony because of being abandoned by His Father for that period, even though the divine part understood why,

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me,
and from the words of My groaning? ~ 
Psalm 22:1, NKJV.

And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) ~ Mark 15:34, NIV.

I’ve come to believe that the cup of suffering Jesus prays about in Luke 22:42 isn’t so much the physical suffering inherent in the scourging and the crucifixion, though granted, they are agonizingly and excruciatingly painful all by themselves. Rather, I think the suffering Jesus was praying about was the abandonment from the Father He had to endure while He was on the cross once He took on the sin of all mankind.

Think about it. The entire time Christ was on earth He experienced extremely close fellowship with the Father. The rest of us should be envious of that kind of fellowship! He could talk to God anytime He chose, and have no problem hearing God speak to Him. How many of us have bemoaned being able to hear from God like that? I know I have!

Many times He spent all night in prayer, and I’ll bet it wasn’t a chore, because He was talking with His Father. After one of those all-night sessions, He chose His twelve disciples,

Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor. ~ Luke 6:12-16, NKJV.

So the divine part of Jesus had the hope of the resurrection in mind, but the human part of Him experienced fear ~ for example when He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane (see above, also Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42). His divine part would have enabled Him to overcome the temptation to give in to the fear felt by His humanity, but He felt it nonetheless. Plus God sent an angel to strengthen Him, which probably helped a lot,

Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. ~ Luke 22:43, NKJV.

I wonder how many times we’ve had angels helping us and we didn’t even know it!

My pastor, Pastor Jack Hibbs, said something during his sermon this morning that made a whole lot of sense to me, given my life, and given what I’m writing about here. He said that people lose hope when they become afraid. I think that’s part of what’s happening during this pandemic we’re all going through right now, but it’s also relevant to me.

When he said that, I realized that’s why Harry was able to steal my hope throughout my childhood. He put me in constant fear and terror of being beaten and/or raped, plus he kept threatening me with his revolver if I ever told anyone about what he was doing to me. And he made me think that God hated me as well. So I was always afraid of him and of God, of being physically harmed and/or dying.

Then I found out that everything he’d ever told me was nothing but a pack of lies.

What a RELIEF!!! 

I didn’t have to be afraid anymore. God wasn’t who Harry had made Him out to be. All of a sudden I could hope again.

HOPE is the OPPOSITE of FEAR, and I received hope from the cross when Christ took away my sins and broke the power of death over my life. And at the same time He broke the power of death over me, and gave me hope, He also broke the power of fear over me.

Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you’ve ever heard?

I think so!

When Faith Becomes Sight

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I crave beauty in all its various forms. I can’t live without beauty in my life. As a consequence, I’ve spent a lot of money on paintings, art glass, and other kinds of art so that I’m surrounded by beauty at all times, no matter where I go.

That said, God is the author and creator of all beauty. Not only did He give human beings the ability to make beautiful things because He created us in His image (see Genesis 1:26-27), but the plants and animals He created were (and are) all unique and beautiful as well. All you have to do is look at a bird or a flower to see that a Being of supreme intelligence created it. Here are some examples:

First we have a Gouldian Finch, which is native to Australia, and below that a Fiery-throated Hummingbird. After that is a Long-tailed Sylph. Next you see a Passion Flower, and after that a Habenaria Radiata, aka a Dove Orchid.

Gouldian Finch

Fiery-throated Hummingbird

Long-tailed Sylph

Passion Flower

Habenaria Radiata, aka Dove Orchid

And just to show you that God uses beauty to display His sense of humor, as well as make us laugh, check this out:

Hooker's Lips (Psychotria Elata)

Hooker’s Lips Flower.

I look at these examples of God’s creative power and artistry, and I’m in awe. And sometimes I imagine God as He’s creating the birds and the flowers, and in my mind’s eye He looks like He’s having a lot of fun as He’s doing it.

God having fun? Yes, but not in a carefree or slapdash way as a child might do. I think God is very deliberate as He creates. I think He has the exact design for what He’s going to make already conceived in His mind, and the fun is in the exuberant colors and shapes He chooses for the creatures He’s making. For example, look at the peacock:

Indian-Male-Peacock-ImageKandarps A

Talk about vivid, exuberant colors!

And then there’s this:

Tiny Peacock Spider

This is a male Peacock Spider, Maratus caeruleus. Peacock Spiders are a genus of jumping spiders, and they’re tiny, 4-5 mm in length. There are some 79 different known species of these spiders, and each one is different, with a different pattern of colors and shapes on the vertical display. They’re found almost exclusively in Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania. The colorful display shown above is found only in the males, and is only visible during courtship rituals, along with their raised, fringed third legs. And the cool thing is, the rich, luminous, almost flamboyant colors with which God made this wee spider are also iridescent.

My point in showing you this last creature is that even in the tiniest of God’s designs, He expresses Himself in the most elaborate, even ostentatious ways ~ and I haven’t shown you any of the amazing microscopic examples. I could write a whole post about nothing but microscopic beauty, but that’s for another time.

These birds, flowers, and as much as I dislike them, even this spider, are, to me, extravagant design at its best. God really outdid Himself here, as He always does.

In reality, however, as beautiful and elaborate as these examples are, they’re only a wisp of a shadow of the beauty to be found in Heaven. And I believe the beauty in Heaven is the benchmark for everything else called beautiful, and it’s far beyond anything we could conceive in our wildest imaginings,

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”(Isaiah 64:4, NKJV); 1 Corinthians 2:7-9, NKJV.

God doesn’t think as we do. His ideas are higher than ours could possibly be,

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” ~ Isaiah 55:8-9, NLT. 

So when God thinks about beauty, He thinks in completely different realms from the way we do,

And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass. ~ Revelation 21:21, RSV.

That wonderful verse is talking about Heaven. There are twelve entrances to Heaven, barred by twelve gates, and as the verse above says, each gate is made of one, single pearl. Think about that. That has to be one huge, enormous, gigantic, HUMUNGOUS GEM!! And unless God created it supernaturally, which He’s certainly capable of doing…

That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. ~ Romans 4:17, NLT.

…then the oyster that made each pearl had to have been just as massive as the pearl it produced.

And then there are the heavenly streets, which the above-quoted verse says are paved with pure gold. The purest gold here on earth is 24 karat gold, and, as anyone will tell you, it isn’t transparent, or even translucent. In other words, it’s completely opaque, allowing no light to pass through. But Revelation 21:21 says that the gold in Heaven is so pure that it’s as clear as glass, which says to me that, as pure as we think 24 karat gold is, it actually isn’t very pure at all.

My point in talking about gold is that human beings seem to attach a peculiarly high value to gold and jewelry made of gold. Anything made with gold is considered to be especially beautiful by human standards, and yet in Heaven gold is vastly more pure ~ so much more so that it’s transparent ~ but it’s used to pave the streets. That says to me that God doesn’t place the same value on it that we do. He uses it the same way we do asphalt.

In Heaven, gold is equivalent to asphalt! What’s up with that!!

Once again, God’s ideas and values are very different from ours. So much so that we can’t comprehend it! And by the same token, God’s ideas of beauty are vastly different from ours as well,

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by [Eliab’s] appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” ~ 1 Samuel 16:7, NLT.

To God gold isn’t nearly as valuable as living things, and especially the human heart, because Christ died for human beings. So it seems to me that God thinks human beings, and most of all the human heart, are the most beautiful thing of all.

I Yell At My Television Set

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Yup, I do, sometimes even loudly and passionately. I do it because I have all this anger and rage that needs an outlet. So instead of taking it out on myself, which would be completely inappropriate, I yell at the people in whatever TV program I’m watching. Of course, a lot of the shows I watch are about crime and all it’s ramifications, which is already a sensitive subject for me, so I have lots to yell about.

One of my favorite TV channels is Investigation Discovery, which is a channel of nothing but reality TV shows, and all the shows are True Crime stories. I’ve had a fascination for all things criminal for as long as I can remember, I think because I’m perpetually trying to understand what made my father tick, and more to the point, what made him do all the terrible things to me that he did. I think if I can understand why he did it, it will be easier to forgive him.

So I spend a lot of my time while I’m watching TV either talking to the people in the shows I’m watching, or yelling at them. If I can see that they’re going into a dangerous situation, I’ll yell at them to go a different direction, or tell them not to answer the door because the bad guy is there with a gun to kill them.

Logically, I know they aren’t real-life people, but in my imagination they’re as real as if they were standing in my livingroom. I may see them as substitutes for interactions with real people, and the thought occurs to me that interactions with imaginary people such as I’ve described are safe, because I can program in advance what people will do and say, and they will only utter what I tell them to.

The frustrating thing is that the people on TV never say what I want them to say. If they would only say what I think they should say, the story would have a much better outcome ~ at least it seems that way to me.

If only life were as easily controlled as that! Even more, if only you could dominate God like that! But then, if you could, God wouldn’t really be God, would He? I wouldn’t want to be able to rule over God. That would make me God, and I’ve already figured out that I would make a terrible God (see my previous post, I Would Make a Terrible God). God is far bigger and much better than anything human beings try to make Him out to be, and that’s the way it needs to be. Any time human beings try to put God in a box, it won’t be a box that He designed, and He won’t stay there.

So maybe the people on TV not doing what I want them to is a metaphor for the way God works in my life. Hmm… I only just thought of that. I can’t control what the people on TV are doing, and I certainly can’t control God, nor do I want to. I guess that’s the difference. I’d like to be able to control what the people say and do on my TV shows, but I don’t want to control God.

I love God just the way He is: majestic and beautiful and wonderful and amazing and marvelous and unfathomable and best of all, mysterious.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.” ~ Isaiah 55:8-9, NLT.

No More Secrets

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I’ve always had an extremely difficult time talking about being raped, especially if I’m talking about it with a guy. There’s something about saying the words that makes it too real, and makes me terrified it will happen again. So I never talk about it with anyone, not even with God, though technically I don’t need to talk about it with Him, because He already knows about it, and He knows my needs before I ask,

When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! ~ Matthew 6:7-8, NLT.

Even though I don’t need to talk about it with God because He already knows about it, I feel like I should talk about it with Him. It’s a matter of trust rather than foreknowledge.

The real reason I don’t like talking about being raped with God isn’t because I know that He already knows about it. It’s because I have a hard time trusting Him with it. He allowed me to be raped the first time, and not just once, but multiple times, by the one person you’re supposed to be able to trust in all the world ~ your own father. So if He allowed it once then how do I know He won’t allow it again? You know, God’s sovereignty and all that.

But then there’s the whole thing about Harry’s free will, and here’s where I get confused. God is sovereign, but He can’t go against a person’s free will, otherwise He wouldn’t be just. So He couldn’t go against Harry’s free will. But what about my free will? Harry chose to rape me and beat me within an inch of my life, and I had no choice. I guess from a human standpoint, the one who wins is the one who’s the strongest, and that definitely wasn’t me. It was Harry. He was bigger than me, and stronger, so he was always able to overpower me. It definitely wasn’t fair, but it’s the way things were, and I was stuck with the consequences.

So where does my free will come in? My will comes into play once I reach adulthood and the abuse stops. At that point I can choose what I want to do with what’s been done to me as a child. I figure there are a number of different paths victims of child abuse and child sexual abuse can take. You can become bitter and seek revenge on your abuser ~ never a good idea as far as I’m concerned. It’s been proven that holding on to bitterness and unforgiveness will make you sick. Plus, the Bible says that God won’t forgive you if you don’t forgive others,

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. ~ Matthew 6:14-15, NLT.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t ever want to be in the position where God is refusing to forgive me because I haven’t forgiven someone for something they did to me, when all I have to do is forgive that person.

Now you might say to me, But you don’t know what they did to me! It’s true, I don’t, but I’ve had to forgive people for some pretty egregious and horrific things that were done to me. Just read Am I Afraid of Anger, or Do I Get Angry at the Fear? and you’ll see what I’m talking about. I wasn’t able to forgive anyone on my own. I could only do it with God’s help, but that’s the point. I had God’s help, and with His help it was entirely possible. Without His assistance I could never have gotten it done. Not ever. But with God all things are possible (see Matthew 19:26 and Mark 10:27).

I’ve had a great deal of time to think this through, and I spent years being enraged at God in the process, because I couldn’t understand why He would allow me to be abused so horrifically. It just didn’t seem fair to me. Why was Harry’s free will acknowledged and allowed to run roughshod over me ~ another human being with a will supposedly just as free as Harry’s ~ while my will was ignored and tromped on at Harry’s expense and for his pleasure.

The conclusion I’ve come to is that my view of the situation is extremely limited, and I need to trust God, Who can see the whole picture. I need to trust that He can see the whole picture, and that He has everything well in hand,

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV.

It’s taken me a long, long time to come to the point where I can release it into God’s capable hands ~ and recognize that He is able to take care of it, and that He does know what He’s doing ~ and He knew what He was doing all along, even when He allowed the abuse to happen in the first place, though I still have a hard time with that idea. But if I realize that He created me with the strength to handle it, with His help, then I can ~ sort of ~ see that He knew what He was doing from the beginning.

Once I can allow myself to trust God, and I mean really trust Him down to my deepest core, and with my innermost secrets ~ which He already knew about anyway ~ then it will be easier to allow myself to trust other people. At least I think this is true. I know I’m getting better at trusting McT, and at talking about hard stuff with him, and maybe that’s an extension of trusting God more.

I hope so!

No more secrets is my goal, since God knows them all anyway.

Resolution? What’s a Resolution?

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I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I never have. I don’t do it because I know I won’t keep them, and I don’t want the sense of failure that I know I’ll feel once I’ve fallen short of the resolutions I didn’t keep.

What I do instead is commit in my heart to work each and every day to grow in the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of God. This means I cultivate a discipline of daily reading and study in God’s Word, as well as doing my best to remain in fellowship with Him by praying constantly, which I think of as simply talking to God. I don’t always get the reading done, but it’s constantly on my mind, and I use Scripture all the time in different contexts. So even if I’m not actively reading and studying my daily chapters, I’m still wrestling with interpretation and meaning as I’m talking about it with others, or posting verses on Twitter or Facebook.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV.

And probably more important to me than anything, I pray for God to continue healing me more deeply and fully from my childhood.

I don’t want to sound like I’m holier-than-thou by talking about the way I worship God, because I most assuredly do not see myself in that way. I’m well aware of my sinfulness and need for a savior. But this blog is about my progress as God heals me from my past, and it’s also about my life with God as I learn about Him and grow to know Him more and more deeply. And as such, if I don’t talk about myself and my life, and what I’m doing to grow and heal, then it might be a little weird, seems to me.

I could be wrong about that. I’m wrong about a lot of things, but I don’t think so.

But that’s neither here not there, because, as I’ve stated, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. And thus far, I’m doing well. Exceedingly well, in fact. This year I’ve had some pretty significant victories, the most exciting of which is that I’m no longer hitting myself. Yup, the self-abuse has stopped. For good.

You can’t imagine how amazing and marvelous and exciting and wonderful that is to me! I struggled with this problem on a daily basis for about forty-five years, and I had no control over it. The least little frustration or the silliest mistake would cause me to fly off the handle and hit myself or scratch myself badly enough to draw blood. There were times where I gave myself a black eye, and the scratches on my face or arms looked like I’d been attacked by a wild animal.

It was incredibly embarrassing, because it was only infrequently that I didn’t have some kind of injury on my face or body, and they were almost always visible. If I was able to go a whole week with no self-abuse I would begin to hope it had gone away, and I constantly prayed to God to take it from me. I also constantly repented for doing it in the first place. Basically I felt like I was living in Hell all the time, and I couldn’t tell anyone about it, because it was just too humiliating.

Then about six months ago, at the end of June, it stopped. I don’t remember what was going on around that time, and no one prayed for me about the self-abuse, but I had continued to beg God for freedom from it. I was playing my online games, mainly June’s Journey and a couple of others, something I talked about in a previous post (Go To Forgiveness, Go Right To Forgiveness. Don’t Pass Through Guilt, Don’t Go To Condemnation.), and one day I realized that the frustration of making mistakes as I played no longer bothered me. I was able to tell myself that the mistakes didn’t matter, that it was just a game, and so what if I made a mistake.

So what, indeed! I finally realized that, given what happened to me throughout my childhood, anything that occurs now is so insignificant by comparison as to be irrelevant. Seeing my life from that perspective makes it so much easier to understand in terms of the overarching theme of God’s loving involvement and protection, while placing the day-to-day events where they belong ~ in the larger tapestry of my whole life, with no single occurrence assuming greater importance in God’s overall scheme of things.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. ~ Ephesians 2:10, NLT.

I love this verse! The word “masterpiece” in the Greek is ποίημα or poiēma. Most other translations use the word workmanship, while the NIV uses handiwork. We get our English word poetry from it.

So my life is God’s masterpiece, a beautiful tapestry of His design, while individual day-to-day events are threads woven in, but they don’t influence the overall outcome, unless it’s to enhance the beauty even more. And it’s all in God’s hands and according to His design.

So this was my big victory for 2019, and I’m grateful every day for it. To be free of something that had tormented me for about two-thirds of my life is a truly huge weight lifted from my shoulders. It was a bondage that made me feel like Sisyphus forever having to push his boulder to the top of the mountain, only to watch it roll to the bottom, where he’d have to start all over again.

I can’t thank God enough for releasing me from that oppression!

I’m eagerly looking forward to another resolution-less year of knowing God more profoundly, loving His Word more deeply, and receiving more healing at His hands. Plus I’m hoping to lose some weight, because I got this cool machine called a StreetStrider, which is an elliptical that can be used both indoors and outdoors. I’m also considering looking for a job, maybe maybe just maybe, though that’s pretty scary.

Just means more healing is needed…

Ever onward with God!!